How to start an online shop in 4 easy steps:
The concept of how to start an online shop may seem daunting at first. Maybe you are a shop front owner who has thought about growing your business with e-commerce. Or maybe you want to be able to work from home and create a comfortable passive flow of income. Either way, the process of how to start an online shop has become a lot simpler than it previously was.
Check out these 4 easy steps on how to start an online shop to see that generating money through online stores might not be as hard as you think!
#1 Picking your product
This is the biggest first step for how to start an online shop. Online, you’ll find many articles suggesting that your passion is not a smart way to choosing products to sell. Now this may be true to a certain degree. If your hobby is collecting old board games, this may be a hard product to successfully sell online. But if you dislike children and choose to start a children’s product line, you may lack the motivation and knowledge to sell your products successfully.
So choose your niche carefully and have fun with it!
Now you have to make sure these products are within your budget and your reach. If you are trying to sell luxurious jewelry with no budget and no connections, this may not be a tangible start for you.
A cool way to cut costs is to outsource your products. Sights such as alibaba.com help match you to manufacturers in other countries. They make the products that you are looking for at low costs, in bulk. Websites like these are very important in how to start an online shop with a selection of products. Some of them will even work with you to customize a product to your standard!
If out-sourcing a product doesn’t fit your style, contemplate making your own products. This allows you to create your own standards and produce products without labor costs. Just make sure you have access to the materials you need in bulk for a good price.
The last thing you will need to take into account when picking your products are demand and competition. Do people care about the products you want to sell? Are there too many other brands on the market already selling your products?
One of the easiest ways to measure online demand and competition for a product is by using Google’s keyword tool. This tool will provide data on how many people are searching for specific terms and keywords. It will also give you the competition on those keywords as “high”, “medium”, or “low”.
Now that you know how to select a product, lets head to the second step of how to start an online shop!
#2 Picking a platform / sales channel
Your next question should be “where am I going to sell this product?”
Online right? Well that’s like saying I am going to live in America. But what state, what city, what street and house number?
Now, you have many choices here. All choices accompanying pros and cons when choosing how to start an online shop. You can choose to sell your products on a Marketplace, which is an already established selling platform like Amazon, eBay, etsy, etc. You can choose to develop your own website as a platform for e-commerce. Or you can do both. Here are some of the pros and cons when contemplating how to start an online shop:
Some of the pros to think about with selling your products on AMAZON are:
- Huge customer base. Amazon is one the largest online retailers, which potentially means more traffic to your products.
- Credibility and trust. Amazon has built up a lot of credibility with its customers, meaning that new customers have more trust purchasing products than they would with an individual website.
- Great back-end support. This support that Amazon provides can be very handy when you’re just figuring out how to start an online shop. Calculating taxes for customers can be very difficult especially for some states where taxes can differ between zip codes. But Amazon takes care of this. They also can handle all of the fulfillment and shipping of your product in a timely manner to save you the hassle, and ensure fast service.
Some of the cons of Amazon include:
- Lack of branding control. Customers often don’t see the individual vendor, disconnecting them from you, leaving you little room for brand awareness.
- Lack of Customer Contact. Amazon does not provide you with your customer’s email addresses, which makes remarketing to prior customers difficult.
Lets look at eBay, some of its pros are:
- Easy-to-use platform. eBay’s easy to use selling, listing and inventory makes your selling process not only simple but also fast.
- Access to millions of potential customers. Like Amazon, eBay has a huge customer base.
- Global reach. eBay, in particular, makes selling products oversees very easy to set up (a very important aspect to keep in mind on how to start an online shop).
Some of eBay’s cons include:
- Possibly not getting paid. As eBay is a bidding system.
- Favors buyers over sellers. Such as implementing their 180 day return policy, and allowing for negative feedback of sellers disregarding who the fault lies with.
Some pros of using ETSY are:
- A large customer base.
- Easy set up.
- Supportive community. Etsy has forums for sellers to congregate and gain support, which also builds product loyalty and brings in more potential sales.
Some cons of using Etsy are:
- Fees add up.
- Lack of customization. It is hard to add personality to your listing on Etsy, which may be important on how to start an online shop for you.
- High competition. Because Etsy funnels customers through specific categories, there is high competition within them.
There are definitely many pros to selling on your own developed website as well:
- Full control over branding. You can easily incorporate your brand message, which is great for brand trust and in term brand loyalty.
- Access to customer’s information. Making remarketing to these customers easier.
- Full control over promotional offers.
Some cons consist of:
- Lack of visibility. Imagine you own a pizza shop. If it is located on Main Street surrounded by thriving businesses, customers are constantly passing by. This means more visibility and potential customers for you (like a Marketplace). If you put your pizza shop on a isolated street, you will have to use more resources to make customers aware that it is there (like selling on your own website).
- Time intensive. From customizing every part of your own website, to calculating taxes, fulfilling shipments and processing payments, these are a large time-suck. These are very important things to take into account when delegating your resources for how to start an online shop.
With all of the pros and cons of using a Marketplace versus your own website for selling products, this choice may seem overwhelming.
A smart way to start if you are “newbie” is by using a Marketplace to get a feel for the process. Once you feel confident with that, you can start building up your own website as a selling platform.
Keep in mind that there are a few steps in making a website when contemplating how to start an online shop.
First you will need to reserve the domain, or the name of your website address. You can do this with services like GoDaddy or Domain.com. Be creative here! But remember to keep your name relevant and memerable.
Second, you will need a hosting company to host your website. There are a couple of great options for an easy-to-use host like BlueHost or JustHost. Bear in mind, when figuring out how to start an online shop, opting out with more user-friendly hosts may be worth an extra buck or two to you.
After you have these two steps down, your website is ready to work on. But unless you know how to code a website and all of its features yourself, you will need to install a CMS (content management system). This enables you to easily organize your website into “home” pages, “about us” pages, or even “blog post” pages, etc.
A CMS like WordPress makes all of these things simple and user-friendly. But they do not include the option to create a “shop” section for your website. Here is where an e-commerce platform comes in handy. After all why follow all the steps of how to start an online shop if you can’t even sell your product?
You can access an e-commerce platform by installing it into your CMS. Common examples of these are Shopify, Woo Commerce (ex. Ouchie Cap), and Magento (ex. Explicit Supplements). These enable you to have a page on your website that allows for others to follow through with a purchase. Keep in mind though that these are very basic platforms. In order to have a thorough and well functioning e-commerce platform, additional plug-ins (functionality enhancements) may be necessary.
We hope you are feeling more confident with your knowledge on how to start an online shop!
Finding a way to price your product correctly can be tough. Prices that are too high or too low can be detrimental to your business. Some important things to factor into your prices are:
- Your customer. By knowing these demographics, you can get an idea of what they buy and how cost sensitive they are. This is very important knowledge to take into account when deciding aspects of how to start an online shop. If you are targeting middle class parents, the way you go about pricing your product will be different than a demographic of upper class business owners.
- Your costs. You will need to carefully compile all of your costs. Be careful with this, because it does not just consist of the price of the product itself. It needs to include overhead costs which can include things like rent, shipping, stocking fees etc. It is smart to make a spreadsheet of all these monthly costs and make sure that your gross revenue will exceed these costs.
- Your competition. It is imperative when figuring out how to start an online shop to check out your competition. After all, your potential customers probably will too. If you are really unsure about your pricing, you can get an idea through your competition and make changes as get a better feel for it.
- Shipping. How much does it mean to your customer to get free shipping for the product? This may be a make or break decision when deciding to include that expense into your product cost.
You’re on the last step on how to start an online shop!
How are you going to get people to come to your website or find your product? Having a plan on how to get traffic to your product is imperative. Without traffic you have no revenue.
There are a few ways to do this.
- SEO. Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of increasing your website’s visibility for keywords. This includes things like proper use of title tags and alt tags for images, ranking for keywords, and creating good meta descriptions. There are endless good practices for SEO, something you might want to consider hiring a professional to take care of. Keep in mind your ROI when figuring out how to start an online shop. Investments can be crucial in intensive feilds like this.
- Blogging. Providing interesting and relevant blog posts on your website can help drive traffic. This can also set you apart from your competitors.
- PPC. Pay per click or PPC is a type of paid advertising to drive traffic to your website or product. For this type of advertising, you pay a fixed price for every click your ad gets. The idea here is to pose careful, relevant placements of these ads. You want the best ROI possible, so you are looking for conversions, not just site visitors.
- Social Media Advertising. With millions of people on social media, this is a great platform to advertise on. Just again, be careful to advertise wisely for conversion.
Woohoo!! We are done with the 4 easy steps to start an online shop!
Now all of this can still seem a bit overwhelming still to someone who is interested in starting with e-commerce. Don’t worry, it is overwhelming to most people! That is why reaching out for help with your online store can be a smart move. Trusting people who are experts in these fields almost guarantee a higher ROI.